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Why Believe Madoff Now?

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty

The Ponzi king is now saying J.P. Morgan executives suspected he was up to no good before his massive fraud was exposed. Don’t take this pathological liar’s word on anything.

The wire services just reported that Bernie Madoff has implicated J.P. Morgan Chase in a lawsuit recently filed in federal court in New York by the Steamfitters Local 449 Pension Fund and the Central Laborers’ Pension Fund.Plaintiffs attorney David Rosenfeld met with Madoff, who suggested that top officials of J.P. Morgan suspected the fraud that Madoff himself so famously committed. Over the past year, J.P. Morgan has made a habit of “mea culpas” to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, and there seems to be no end in sight for this mega-institution.

We’ve Hit Peak Cable

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Cable companies can’t sign up any more people. In fact, they’re losing them to the Internet. So the only way to survive is to monopolize more of the market and up-sell subscribers just as Comcast-Time Warner Cable will do.

On Wednesday, Comcast struck a $45-billion deal to acquire Time Warner Cable. If approved, the deal would represent a giant step toward greater consolidation: Comcast has 22 million subscribers and Time Warner has 11 million. To allay anti-trust concerns, Comcast said it would divest systems with about 3 million subscribers, leaving the merged company with a combined 30 million customers—well over half of the nation’s cable television subscribers.

Venti

Starbucks Upset At Parody Store

Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters

Dumb Starbucks opens to long lines in L.A.

You can get a Dumb Frappuccino, a Dumb Iced Coffee, and listen to Dumb Jazz Standards at Dumb Starbucks, a parody store that adds the word "dumb" to everything Starbucks. The shop opened Friday in L.A. to long lines and big laughs. But the Seattle coffee giant is not amused. "We are evaluating next steps and while we appreciate the humor, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark," says Zack Hutson, a spokesman for the company. But Dumb Starbucks says that the operation is legal because it is considered parody art.

Read it at Los Angeles Times

NOT UNDERPAID

GM's Female CEO Gets 60% Raise

Daniel Roland/AFP via Getty

Over her male predecessor.

Give or take $10 million. General Motors CEO Mary Barra will be earning a salary and stock options that total about $14.4 million this year, as opposed to earlier numbers that showed the company's first female CEO was making half of her predecessor's compensation. Dan Akerson, who retired in January, earned about $9 million as CEO last year. On Monday, GM released full figures "to correct misperceptions created by comparisons that used only a portion of Barra's overall compensation."

Read it at Detroit Free Press

The War on Uber

The Daily Beast

How taxi cartels resort to desperate measures to kill innovation and save their crumbling industry.

On the evening of December 31, 2013, Huan Kuang and her two young children were crossing the street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District when a Honda SUV made a careening right turn and ran them over in the intersection. Ms. Kuang suffered multiple injuries, including a skull fracture, and two and a half months later she still has trouble walking. The skin on one side of five-year-old Anthony Liu’s face was scraped off, which will leave permanent scarring.

Smile

Why Didn't Obama Tout the Economy?

Seth Wenig/AP

President Obama’s speech won’t change the country’s sour mood about jobs and the deficit, but America is coming back faster and stronger than anyone expected.

President Obama took the podium for last night’s State of the Union Address at a time when mood of the country is sour—toward the president and toward the economy.An objective look at the data and the record of the last several years suggests that this shouldn’t be the case.Historically speaking, presidents get credit for the positive economic news that happens on their watch and get blame for the bad things that happen—even when they are not entirely at fault.

Cutting Edge

The Shaving Revolution

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The Gillette-Schick duopoly better watch out for Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s, which promise more convenience and less cost to do what men hate most in the morning.

Don’t look now, bros but your morning routine is getting disrupted—in a good way.While stubble, beards, and moustaches may be in vogue everywhere, lots and lots of men feel like they have to shave every day—or at least every other day. Which means they are subject to an industry dominated by a few big players who are quite set in their ways.For more than a century, the shaving market has been essentially stagnant. In 1901, King Gillette introduced the safety razor in 1901, and the company bearing his name has involved into a huge firm, which is now part of the consumer products conglomerate Procter & Gamble.

Hot Apps

Confide: Snapchat for Grownups

Jimmy Anderson/Getty

If you’re a professional who needs to communicate without a paper trail, Confide is for you—at least until it gets hacked or bought by a big, privacy-invading tech firm.

Confide, the disappearing-messaging app for grownups that was tabbed as one of the The Daily Beast’s hot apps for the week, has come too late for many professionals. But if you want to rag on co-workers, engage in political machinations, and swap tips about hot stocks without having to worry so much about the consequences, it’s right on time.The media is full of stories of careers and lives laid waste by indiscreet texts, emails, and other digital communications.

Flat

The SodaStream Fracas That Fizzled

Mike Coppola/Getty for SodaStream

The news that Scarlett Johansson was representing the Israeli firm SodaStream caused Al Jazeera to call it a controversy—based on four tweets.

What if you try to create a celebrity scandal and no one listens?Such was the case on Al Jazeera’s blog “The Stream,” which reacted to the news that Scarlett Johansson had been named the “global brand ambassador” of Israeli carbonation company SodaStream by latching onto the potentially ideal recipe for outrage—a Hollywood A-lister plus the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—with an article on Monday entitled “Criticism as Scarlett Johansson becomes new face of SodaStream.

Fat Stacks

Fed Reserve Is Insanely Profitable

LM Otero/AP

On February 1, Janet Yellen will take over America’s central bank, a cash cow that makes the Fortune 500 look like peanuts.

The Federal Reserve is the most powerful and influential financial institution in the world and it is also one hell of a business.The Fed, like Newt Gingrich, was hatched in secret one hundred years ago, on a small island off the coast of Georgia.  It was created to bring order to a chaotic banking system in the wake of a string of financial crises around the turn of the century. What's gotten the mainstream media buzzing about the bank of late is the fact that, for the first time in it's century-long history, a woman will be running the show.

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Shame on You, Walmart!

With an Ohio Walmart hosting a holiday food drive for its own workers, The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky criticizes the notoriously stingy company for not paying them more.

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    Obama Gets Credit for Stock Market

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Daniel Gross

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